Saturday, January 23, 2010

Our Rescue Dog: Is It Separation Anxiety of Just Getting to Know Us / Previous Trauma?

Last weekend we adopted a rescued Clumber Spaniel mix. He is in many ways the perfect dog for us. He is calm and relaxed when we are at home. He doesn't chew on stuff or beg for food. I can leave my crafting supplies around and he never goes near them. He sleeps well at night in a crate (best solution for us and really like a den). He is great with children and strangers (a must with us really).

But, man oh man, does he hate when we leave the house. Thing is, we are home most of the time. We really only leave for church a few nights per month and can arrange gym trips and classes to have him with us. We homeschool and we host many events here in our home. I don't mean he sort of hates when we leave. My husband left for a marathon last weekend and he almost tored through the window. He has bloodied himself being left for two hours. He has broken through a metal crate and clawed at the door and carpet until we came home.

We love him already. We want to keep him. Crate training is necessary at least when we leave the house for no more than 4 hours or so and only a few times per week max. Tomorrow my husband is staying behind from church to help the dog recover from his terrified escapade, but that is not a long term solution. We are reading up on separation anxiety, hoping for tips and some success from others. It really is a downer to read that dogs are euthanized for such behaviors.

We knew a rescue dog would be a challenge. An older dog like he is might have established some unhealthy behaviors. We knew it would be a process. We aren't even totally comfortable with the confining him part but we definitely want to invest in him properly and we want him safe.

I would love comments with great stories especially. I need some encouragement. This is an emotional process.

Here is Buckeye, our beautiful dog:


  1. For my rescue dog, the best healer has been positive reinforcement training - and lots of time. The more training she received the more she calmed down, but it also took her about a year to be able to really settle in.

    Have you tried leaving Kongs or other treats around the house when you leave? Put food inside of toys and hide them all over the house. Give him something to do while you're gone - something to look forward to, even!! He will learn that it's not so bad when you leave because there's a fun game to play and yummy food to eat.

    Also, do practice runs of leaving the house. Leave for 1 minute, then 2 minutes, then 3. Make NO fuss about leaving and NO fuss about returning - just walk in and out and ignore him altogether. (Being dramatic about coming and going - even in a positive manner - adds stress.)

    Trust me, I know it's hard - but in time, he will learn that you will always come back!

  2. He is so adorable! Have you checked out the pets forum? I often request advice there when I have questions about our cats! Hope he adjusts soon!

  3. thanks so much to both of you. I had thousands of post on MDC long time ago and then got distracted by other forums and I love your ideas Robin. He can't be left to roam inside yet but we might try outside until his anxiety over the kennel subsides. I hope he can be free to roam soon. We only rescued him a week and a half ago and have no idea of his history.